When muscles are stiff or painful due to chronic pain or disease, trigger point injections can be used as treatment. This article will discuss trigger points and how trigger point injections are commonly used to treat trigger points.
What are Trigger Points?
Trigger points are muscle knots caused by fascia (the tissue that surrounds the muscle) which contract and stick to themselves. These knots appear as bumps underneath the skin and can cause pain to individuals. Sometimes the severity of the knots can cause nearby areas to be affected as well, and this is known as referred pain.
Trigger points can be caused by a variety of physical issues including chronic pain, injury, or joint disorders as well as diseases such as fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, or tension headaches. These issues can affect muscles in the lower back, neck, arms, or legs.
What are Trigger Point Injections?
When muscles become stiff or painful due to these knots, trigger point injections are used to help soothe and relax the muscles, reduce inflammation, and eliminate pain. A doctor will inject a small amount of anesthetic and steroid into the trigger point to improve blood flow and let the body repair itself.
If a patient has tried physical therapy or pain medication but is still experiencing pain due to trigger points, a doctor might recommend a trigger point injection. Doctors identify trigger points through a physical exam where they locate and feel these knotted areas. X-rays or other imaging software is not needed to located trigger points. The patient does not need to undergo any preparation for a trigger point injection, but it is recommended that they thoroughly discuss the procedure with his or her doctor.
For the procedure, the patient will sit or lie down while the doctor inserts a small needle into the trigger point to inject the anesthetic and steroid. This procedure only lasts around 15 minutes, and while patients might receive several injections in the weeks after the initial injection, these injections will slow down to only one injection every two months. The severity of the trigger point determines the number of injections and duration of treatment. Injections that include only anesthetic materials can be administered more frequently than injections with a mix of anesthetic and steroids, as steroids can damage tissues.
After an injection procedure, individuals can use the affected muscle but are asked to refrain from strenuous physical activity for a few days following the procedure. It takes anywhere from 24 to 72 hours for the anesthetic and steroid to begin providing relief to the trigger point, and the substances can last up to a month.
What are the Benefits of Trigger Point Injections?
Chronic pain is an ongoing issue in America. A 2018 study from the CDC found that nearly 20 million Americans, or 1 in 5 Americans, suffer from chronic pain. 19.6 million individuals are affected by chronic pain that interferes with day-to-day activities. This pain has negative consequences for the individual, their family, and society at large, with chronic pain linked to increased suicide rates and opioid consumption.
Benefits of trigger point injections include the alleviation of pain without the use of opioids. With a simple procedure that includes the body’s natural healing processes, individuals can get pain relief and return to their day-to-day activities without a dependence on opioids.
What are the Risks for Trigger Point Injections?
The risks for trigger point injections are very low. Side effects such as bleeding and infection at the injection site are uncommon. Some patients experience numbness or soreness at the injection site, but these symptoms typically go away within a few days.
Advanced Pain Institute of Texas
Trigger point injections are a non-invasive way to treat trigger points. While there are a variety of ways to treat chronic pain such as physical therapy and prescription drugs, trigger point injections are quick and efficient. They reduce pain and allow patients to return to their day-to-day activities.
Contact the doctors at Advanced Pain Institute of Texas today to learn more about trigger point injections. Dr. Eric Anderson and Dr. John Broadax have decades of experience with providing patients with world-class pain treatments and education. Reach out today to see if trigger point injections are right for you!